Life is Too Serious to Take Seriously

Don’t stress the ‘could haves’; if it should have, it would have

By BOB MIRMAN

To be honest, I really wasn’t a very good psychologist. Going back to the beginning, even my internship was a scary time. In that early stage of my career, I worried about my skill-set, the speed of my learning curve, and my ability to adequately help people in need.

As a result, I carried my patients’ traumas around like a student backpack: Always present, noticeably weighty, and stressful. Talk about bringing work home from the office!

The Fantasy of Control

These days, as I listen to my friends and clients describe the stress in their business lives, I see a couple of common threads in the creation of business-related stress:

1. We all have delusions of power. We believe we SHOULD be able to control everything in our lives. Regrettably, our control is limited. But the gap between our delusions and the reality of building and marketing new homes creates anxiety and stress. “Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” – Kahlil Gibran

2. We give too much power to people
who can mess with our comfort level. It can come from staff members, contractors, city inspectors, customers, you name it. The fires of stress are stoked by personnel issues and complaining customers who are too often permitted to lower your perception of self-worth. 

An inordinate degree of personal stress may be a sign that you are allowing the inmates to run the asylum. Remember the song title: God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy (Google Billy Currington).

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

So how do we confront these issues? Here are two unique steps you should consider if you have been inviting stress home from the office:

1. Treat the symptom with a smile: Research published by the National Institutes of Health indicates that exposure to humor not only reduces your stress, but induces many positive physical changes in your body. Laughter allows your brain to release endorphins and strengthen your immune system; belly laughs increase your intake of oxygen-rich air subsequently stimulating your heart and lungs. Ahhh…relaxation.

Norman Cousins, journalist and professor, wrote a bestseller (Anatomy of an Illness, 1979), which described his use of laughter to add many unexpected years to his life following his terminal prognosis. Cousins used Marx Brothers movies and Candid Camera episodes to induce belly laughs, which reduced anxiety and allowed better sleep.

Not a Marx Brothers fan? Try Jim Gaffigan, Chris Rock, or, my favorite, Foster Brooks in Dean Martin’s Roasts.

2. Eliminate the causes of your stress:

Many of Eliant’s builder clients have told me about the decrease in stress and better nights of sleep after reducing the annoying frequency of homeowners’ complaints.

A homebuyer’s #1 complaint: Not being kept informed of construction progress. You can address this by sending your buyers an update at least once every two weeks. Don’t wait for them to ask for this information; ditto for loan status. Be proactive. It’s good for your reputation and your health.

Of all the elements of your homes, homeowners are the least satisfied with interior paint. It creates complaints, which add to your stress. If you are an Eliant client, we can provide the names of our clients who have found an answer to this major source of dissatisfaction & complaints. No need to reinvent the wheel.

After 10 years of an up-market, economic changes are afoot. Things are bound to get more stressful. However, as Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Save Ferris.

Bob Mirman is a psychologist and founder/ CEO of 34-year old Eliant, the building industry’s largest firm specializing in managing the customer experience. He may be reached at contact@eliant.com

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